Today, Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) issued the following statement at a press conference regarding the California House delegations attempt to pass drought relief legislation:
“As the Chairman of the Californian Republican Delegation and one of the negotiators for a California water bill, I come here today more in sadness than in anger.
California families, farmers and businesses up and down the state continue to suffer with our ongoing drought.
Over the past several years, and in earnest over the past few months on this specific legislation, I have been actively engaged with members of our delegation to seek out appropriate federal solutions to address the California drought.
I am so disappointed to be here today. I was hopeful that we would get a deal done. Unfortunately, we could not get the Senators to accept a good, reasonable compromise. All 14 members of our delegation got to “yes.” Our two senators could not.
I am no stranger to the complex and highly charged nature of water policy, having been intimately involved with the Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement negotiations in 2003 as well as being the author of the CALFED law that I worked directly with Senator Feinstein to get across the finish line in 2004. I can tell you that our recent bipartisan and bicameral negotiations have been equally daunting, yet equally promising. Because of success in those past negotiations, I truly felt that my optimism was justified throughout this one.
The members of our delegation, along with our staff, have put in hundreds of hours and untold energy to identify a package of policy changes that all sides can live with. I am so proud of the optimism, flexibility and discipline that I saw from the members here before you.
One of our top priorities throughout these negotiations was to create flexibility in the operation of the pumps in the Delta in order to capture as much water as possible during the upcoming rainy season – which we are very optimistic about because of the El Nino forecast.
After many lengthy discussions with the Senate, the Administration, conservation groups, water districts throughout the state, and other interested stakeholders, we arrived at a compromise that would have provided some much needed - and much deserved- relief to the drought-stricken communities of California.
The language that we proposed, after significant back and forth with Senator Feinstein’s office, does not violate the Endangered Species Act or the existing biological opinions that the Fish and Wildlife Service has approved. This belief was shared by the Administration…before they walked it back.
We entered into good faith negotiations at Senator Feinstein’s request, with the stated goal of attaching the language to a must-pass vehicle like the omnibus. Taking advantage of the must-pass omnibus was Senator Feinstein’s idea. I agreed with her. The deal was close to done but unfortunately, Senator Feinstein took umbrage over something that occurred in a closed-door meeting. To be clear, no one outside of a few high-level negotiators knew about that until her press release walking away from the deal. That small slight was not worth throwing away all that we had achieved.
Even after that, our 14 California Republican members remained hopeful, and quiet – beyond the 11th hour – trying to resolve small differences with a bipartisan coalition to help the state of California. Yesterday’s LA Times editorial was the final straw. It’s sad when the LA Times editorial page gets the story wrong, but it is a tragedy for so many Californians when the Senate gets the policy wrong.
So, our good faith negotiations have come to no positive resolution.
I am deeply troubled and saddened that the true losers in this process are the people of California, who so desperately need the water that this compromise would have provided. The rain is coming, the omnibus is moving. We will never have this opportunity again.”